Denver Sheriff Halts Immigration Detentions

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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The Denver Sheriffs Department (DSD) announced Wednesday it will no longer hold inmates for deportation at the request of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency solely based on their immigration status, joining several other Colorado counties that have adopted the same policy.

The move was spurred by recent court decisions that detaining people at the request of ICE, based solely on their status as illegal immigrants, could violate the Constitution, according to Reuters.

“This change in policy is effective immediately based upon the changing legal landscape,” Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson wrote in a memo. “DSD will continue its cooperation with ICE officials and provide requested information regarding persons in custody.”

However, the memo continued, “All persons who are in our custody who currently have a 48-hour ICE hold that is not accompanied by a criminal warrant or some other form that gives … legal authority to hold that person shall be dropped.”

Denver now joins 30 other jurisdictions across the country in ignoring so-called “ICE detainers,” including Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

In Colorado, the counties of Boulder, Mesa, Routt, Jefferson, Grand and San Miguel have similar policies.

The Colorado chapter of the ACLU sent letters to every county sheriff informing them of the court decisions and urging them to follow the other counties’ leads.

“An ICE detainer is not a warrant; it is not approved by a judge,” ACLU Colorado Public Policy Director Mark Silverstein said in a statement. “It does not mean that there has been a finding about the person’s immigration status. It does not even mean that ICE has probable cause to believe the person is deportable. Indeed, ICE makes mistakes—it has regularly issued detainers against citizens or legal residents and denied liberty to people who are not deportable.”

Silverstein noted that although ICE can request a prisoner be held for up to 48 hours, some have been held for up to six days over holiday weekends.

“When ICE asks a sheriff to hold a prisoner for up to six extra days, the agency is essentially asking the sheriff to make a new arrest,” he continued. “And Colorado law just does not provide authority to sheriffs to make that arrest.”

ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said the agency “will continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement partners throughout Colorado as the agency seeks to enforce its priorities by identifying and removing convicted criminals and others who are public safety threats,” according to Reuters.

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